Telemedicine Leads to Better Patient Outcomes
There’s no question that today’s world is more connected than ever. How amazing is it that your phone enables you to check into a flight, order and pay for a coffee, take a peek at your doorbell camera, and have a quick video chat with your sister all while you wait for your flight? Sometimes it’s easy to take these conveniences for granted and forget what it was like just 10-15 years ago, when most people still had flip phones and even – dare we say it – pagers.
Here’s something you may not realize. Even the way doctors practice medicine is changing, with increased integration of telemedicine to improve patient care. In fact, the American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have stated that the use of telemedicine can enhance the standard of care and recommends that OB/GYNs and other physicians should become “familiar and adept in this new technology.”
The question is, what does that mean for you?
What Exactly is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine, also called telehealth, is defined as “the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration.” This includes video conferencing (live or recorded), transmitting personal health and medical data, and the use of messaging and apps via mobile devices.
Researchers have found that “telehealth is increasingly used in nearly every aspect of women’s health care,” from virtual patient consults to monitoring post-partum blood pressure using wi-fi devices and smartphone apps. Many aspects of the patient experience are becoming more digital, more discreet, and, importantly, more convenient.
How Can Telemedicine Benefit Women in Midlife?
Women in midlife have unique health needs, and it’s important to have the support of a doctor who understands what that means. The majority of doctors aren’t comfortable treating or even discussing menopause, which means many women don’t have easy access to a practitioner to help them navigate their midlife transition. In fact, 75% of women who seek out treatment for symptoms related to menopause don’t receive it because of a lack of informed doctors or the unfortunate attitude that these symptoms are just a result of aging.
One of the beautiful things about telemedicine is if you have difficulty finding a practitioner in your area, there are physicians who specialize in helping women just like you during midlife who can work with you remotely. You don’t even have to leave your home. There’s no traffic, no waiting room, and no frustration of visiting one doctor just to be referred to another. It’s a simple way to meet one-on-one with an expert who can help you understand your midlife transition and then work with you to develop a treatment plan and prescribe any medications, if appropriate.
What is the Telemedicine Process Like for Midlife Women?
Whether you can’t find an expert in your area or simply love the idea of avoiding waiting rooms, you can work with an expert from home to help understand your midlife transition. At CurieMD, the process begins with a confidential health questionnaire to help your doctor understand more about you. Menopause affects all women differently, so this is an important first step that takes just a few minutes.
Next, you will have a video conference with a board-certified expert to discuss your symptoms in detail and answer any questions you may have. You have the ability to schedule your appointment at a time that’s convenient for you without having to figure in things like driving time or sitting in the waiting room. You simply chat from your home, office, or wherever you need to without all the extra hassle.
Now that your doctor has all the necessary information, he or she will create a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs. This could include FDA-approved prescription medications to help you manage any symptoms you may be experiencing. Sometimes further testing will be required, like a blood test or mammogram, but your doctor will explain when you may need this information and how to go about scheduling it.
If your treatment plan includes prescription medications, they can be delivered discreetly to your door each month. You’ll have follow-up consults when it’s time to renew any prescriptions and as needed along the way to ensure you are having success with your treatment plan and living your most vital life.
What Prescriptions Can Ease the Symptoms of Menopause?
Many women experience symptoms before and during menopause. It’s important to understand these symptoms because if they are left unmanaged, they can lead to health problems like cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Working with a doctor to treat your symptoms during perimenopause and menopause can help you live more comfortably and reduce the risk of long-term detrimental health effects. Some symptoms of menopause include:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Weight gain around the belly
- Aging skin
- Memory loss and brain fog
- Depression and mood changes
- Vaginal dryness, burning, and irritation
- Painful intercourse and/or reduced sexual desire
- Urinary incontinence
- Heart disease
- Bone loss
- Neurological deficits, such as dementia
Every woman is different, and your treatment plan may include one or more types of medication to manage your symptoms. The doctors at CurieMD understand and appreciate this, which is why it’s necessary to have the consultation and interview process to determine what will be right for your body’s needs. Your treatment plan may include hormone replacement therapy to replenish your body’s declining hormones or nonhormonal treatment to ease symptoms.
The following are hormonal and nonhormonal FDA-approved medications available through CurieMD:
- Systemic hormone replacement therapy – Oral bioidentical hormone tablets that can help reduce hot flashes and night sweats, improve insomnia, relieve vaginal symptoms, and preserve bone health during menopause
- Estradiol vaginal cream – A topical cream to reduce vaginal dryness and burning, enhance your sex life, and prevent recurring bladder infections in menopausal women
- Oral contraceptives – Pills that can help perimenopausal women reduce hot flashes, regulate menstrual cycles, and lessen heavy bleeding
- Venlafaxine – A non hormonal systemic medication to help reduce hot flashes, decrease night sweats, and improve mood during menopause.
Your doctor will develop an individually tailored plan that customizes treatments and dosages based on your symptoms and personal needs. Then your medications will be delivered to you in the privacy of your own home, avoiding a trip to the pharmacy altogether.
You may need to undergo a blood test or a mammogram before refilling your prescription to see if your body’s needs have changed. Don’t worry, your doctor will give you a head’s up and help you understand what needs to be done and when. And the beautiful thing? You can have that conversation remotely too or reach out any other time you need answers.
Your Personal Journey
If you are approaching or currently in midlife, it’s important to work with someone who can help you navigate your transition into and through menopause. Whether it’s via telemedicine or traditional office visits, having the support you need will help you have confidence and be comfortable as your body goes through these changes. And remember, it’s more than just putting an end to hot flashes. There are also larger implications to your health when your body’s estrogen levels drop, and working with a specialist can help minimize your risk.
As you move forward, remember that you are not alone. Even if you don’t have a doctor who can work with you in your area, help is just a click away thanks to telemedicine. You don’t have to write off half a day to fight traffic and sit in a waiting room or expose yourself to a barrage of germs at the pharmacy. If you don’t already have a provider guiding you through your midlife transition, the team at CurieMD is here and ready to help.